How to get motivated for a workout when you don't feel like it

Monday, October 12, 2015

For over a year, as I madly juggled attending graduate school and working full time, I let my fitness go by the wayside. Twenty months later, I had my master's diploma and a job, but simply walking up the subway stairs left me out of breath. It was discouraging to seemingly have to start from scratch but with a little bit of motivational trickery, I'm slowly but surely getting back into shape. So I thought I would share the little tricks that helped me to get off my tuccus in case there are others out there struggling with motivation. And because I am by no means the fitness role model, I have also asked some bad ass babes who have excelled at keeping themselves in top shape to share how they stay motivated over time. Wherever you are in the fitness spectrum, I hope you'll find a helpful hint or two here.

 This is me, Celine, an intermittent runner and wannabe polerina who currently relies on workout trickery to stay motivated. Hey, it works for me!

My foolproof short-term trick consists of sleeping in my workout clothes. It sounds silly but it works! See once upon a time, I had enough motivation to train for and run a marathon, but these days I can come up with myriad excuses to weasel my way out of a 30-minute run. There are certain evenings, however, when let's say I've participated in unbridled pasta consumption that I take special measures to ensure that I can't flake out on that early morning run. On such occasions, I go to bed almost fully dressed in my running clothes. When the alarm rings at the crack of dawn, the temptation to stay in bed is usually overtaken by the realization that I am already dressed for my workout. Believe me, it's much more difficult to flake out when all that's left to do is to put on running shoes. It works like a charm every time.

What has worked for me in the long term is finding an activity that I love that's also a killer workout in disguise: poledancing. I'm typically inwardly hostile to workouts when it seems like I have to do numerous repetitions for the express purpose of sculpting my body. With poledancing, I motivate myself to put in the work knowing that it's these conditioning exercises that will help me develop the strength to perform certain feats. Poledancing's spins, climbs and inversions are pretty foils for what is essentially intense strength training. It also helps that pole tricks, even the padawan moves I'm doing in the photos above, look pretty cool. Just thinking about what other amazing tricks future classes hold the key to motivates me to keep coming back!

Erin Campos Menk and I spent the greater part of our teenage lives together in ballet classes, cheerleading practice and jazz dance rehearsals. Erin has always been fit and disciplined, but the strength she has developed over the past few years because of her devotion to CrossFit has been astounding. If you've been hiding under a rock that hasn't been reached by this strength and conditioning brand, let me introduce you to CrossFit: it is a scaleable, constantly changing and high intensity workout that combines weightlifting, sprinting, gymnastics, powerlifting, kettlebell training, plyometrics, rowing and medicine ball training to turn you into one bad ass babe. Considering how many CrossFit devotees I know, it appears to be hella addicting, but here are some tips from Erin in case you find yourself needing an extra boost:

"I know there are a ton of memes of this but I go by the saying, 'The only bad workout is the one you didn't do.' I keep telling myself that no matter how sluggish I feel, no matter how hard or challenging the workout is, I will feel better that I did it. Also, to get rid of the workout jitters and to help you get through a workout, nothing works better than a good cup of coffee that I add grassfed butter and MCT oil (coconut oil) to — often referred to as 'bulletproof coffee.' Don't knock it til you try it!"

Roma Van der Walt and I first met while slinging beers at a German beergarden in New York and stayed friends despite our busy schedules and ridiculous height discrepancy! Roma is one of those people who make me embarassed to call myself a runner because she's the real deal: as a pentathlete, she competed nationally and internationally as a member of the German National Team until 2002, and these days has rekindled her passion for running, with impressive results. Roma channels her knowledge and experience into Chitta Wellness, providing bespoke personal and group training, and specializing on working with women who are going through the stages of preconception, prenatal fitness and postpartum recovery. Here are her tips for those who need a little motivation:

"It’s always been easy for me to run but I meet a lot of people who dislike this form of exercise. I think most of the time it’s just the beginning that is hard, so I wish people would give it time. Here are my tips for how to master this easiest exercise of all (think about it: no travel time, just put your sneakers on and go!):

- find a local running club and meet like minded people to make the first few times easier
- run by feel and not by time
- sign up for a (short) race to hold you accountable and keep you motivated. I promise you, once you cross that finish line, you’ll be hooked!

The older we get, the less flexible we become, so my second piece of advice is do more yoga! I was the kind of person who didn’t want to do yoga because I didn’t want to sit in meditation. Yoga has become so much more than that. It helps with the respiratory system for other sports; keeps muscles, joints and tendons supple; and ultimately makes you better at other sports. If you are disciplined enough you can sign up for an inexpensive at-home service like but I have found that making the effort and going to a class has had a more structured and calming effect, as I can rely on a yoga teacher to guide me and force me to be present in my practice."

For more information on Chita Wellness' bespoke training, visit You can also get regular fitness inspiration by following Roma on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Pattie Palma Gil Poniente and I were ballet students and cheerleaders together in our younger years, and those years of dance training are evident in her inspiring yoga practice and work as an instructor at Barre3, a workout program which combines ballet, yoga and pilates. Pattie will also soon be an instructor at the upcoming cycling and rowing studio, Saddle Row. Pattie is a true multihyphenate, teaching in three fitness disciplines, in addition to being a hands on mother and wife, businesswoman and online media maven. So if you're wondering how to motivate yourself to work out when there seems to be far too much going on in life, perhaps Pattie's example and advice can help:

"With my hectic and crazy schedule, working out actually becomes my form of stress release. On the days that I feel lazy to exercise or practice (yoga), I remind myself that I need the 'ME' time. The precious hour or so when I don't think about the tasks to be done and my to-do list. It honestly helps me focus and keeps me energized throughout the day. In yoga, we call it 'Tapas' or self discipline to fuel your practice. It's not always easy but I just really try to DO IT even if I have to sometimes motivate myself through a simple treat afterwards. A bowl of chirashi or my favorite gyro always works for me."

Pattie dispenses advice on fitness and food through her A Slice of Pattie Youtube channel and blog. You can also follow Pattie for regular doses of fitspo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Roxy Francisco and I met in grade school, and while I fully recognize the bad ass spirit that she has always carried with her, I am nevertheless amazed and inspired at how she has used the challenges that have come her way into turning herself into her best possible version: Roxy Thunder, Independent Team Beachbody Coach. Roxy channels her own experience of overcoming personal and familial challenges with being overweight, food addictions and illnesses to help others get over their fitness hurdles and come to a place of health and happiness. Her advice digs in deep: 

"The main thing I found that has helped me stay motivated and dedicated to working out regularly (5-6 days a week since I always make sure I take an active rest day) is figuring out my WHY. This WHY is the reason why I decided to adopt a healthier lifestyle in the first place. When figuring out the WHY, it has to be something deeper than simply looking good, fitting in the right size, etc. It usually always starts with a goal such as fitting in a smaller size or looking good for an event such as a wedding, birthday, or vacation but goals like those are too superficial that it usually ends up in frustration and stress. A deeper WHY would be something more emotional and mentally rooted. Maybe it's not ending up obese or diabetic since it runs in your family. Perhaps it could be so you can feel more energetic to run with your kids. Maybe it's something such as to have a better sex life with your husband or wife or partner. It also can be more personal in terms of self confidence and being able to be feel more free and outgoing. All these WHYs can help create that mindset to start and most importantly stick to a workout and healthy eating plan. Consistency is key. One cannot remain motivated every single time but once you remember why you started in the first place, that will mentally push you to wake up everyday and workout. You may not enjoy lacing up for your workout or peeling yourself off that couch but once you get yourself started, it's easier to finish that workout and never have that feeling of regret afterwards. There is always a sense of pride at the end of each workout knowing that you're closer to your goals than you were 30 minutes or an hour earlier. Figure out your deeper WHY and write it down as well as say it out loud. Keep visual reminders of your WHY around your house, your office, and even in your phone. Fitness is more mental than physical. It's all about mindset. Set yourself up with success by simply figuring out your WHY and reminding yourself few times a day WHY you started with this new lifestyle."

For more Roxy Thunder goodness, check out, where you'll find detailed diet and workout information, as well as different ways to motivate yourself to make that lifestyle change. You can also follow Roxy Thunder on InstagramFacebook and Twitter.

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  1. great blog ! <3

  2. Hope you will always find time for workout and fun things in your hectic life. It's inspirational to be healthy and be able to practice a good time management. As the Bible states, 'Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, But the hand of the diligent makes rich (Proverbs 10:4).' I think good time and stress management is what enriches a person's life.